No thanks to UU Blog Awards

This is what I sent the UUpdater a moment ago:

I would like to be removed from consideration for the UU Blog Awards.

While I appreciate the notion (and the continuing effort of UUpdates.net), the only justification for awards is to celebrate and encourage excellence. Yet this system, lacking established standards and a clear voting mechanism, quickly boils into a popularity contest and that’s more likely to harm the blogger ecology and discourage new efforts, even if only subtly. Given a choice, I’d rather let me writing be what it is and let each reader decide its quality or usefulness in the moment.

In case anyone else was thinking the same thing.

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 45, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

18 thoughts on “No thanks to UU Blog Awards

  1. The blog award contest is a good-intentioned evaluation of blog quality, but I guess that it tends to become a form of mutual support and public display of friendship, or about raising the profile of some hot topics in the blogosphere. This is why I have had mixed feelings about some past award nominations. OTOH this is also part of what the whole blogging stuff is about, after all.

  2. What I didn’t get into is that blog awards unnecessary: an artifact from a centralized model of content creation and distribution. I’m no neo-liberal, but there is a place for the market to give “awards” in the form of traffic, comments and links measured in quality and quantity in proportion to the specialization or eccentricity of the blogger. At least these are more transparent and perhaps more fair.

  3. I was reading a thread of comments on a Chicago Tribune story about UUism a bit ago. Robin had found the story and was complaining about how UUs mistreat Christians. He linked to an article of PB’s making similar complaints.

    People apparently followed the link, looked at PB’s page and came back to comment that PB had pulled no punches in that article, and that the UUs had even given her an AWARD for her blog.

    There’s something to be said for having a little badge on your blog that shows you are respected by at least some of your peers.

    Also, you seem to be saying that:

    A. The UU blog awards are a popularity contest
    B. The real judge of a blog is its traffic and how many people link to it. (a.k.a. popularity)

    I don’t really get that.

    That said, I wish there were a category that fit you a little better, because I do think your blog deserves recognition. Sucks to see you drop out. You were a worthy competitor, even though we made our best showings in different categories.

    CC

  4. I think I understand what you’re saying as I had some of those same thoughts.

    Simply from the point of view of creativity, I think “judging” is not particularly helpful to the writer regardless of the process. And this is complicated by not knowing exactly what the standards are on which we are judged.

  5. @Chalicechick. If someone didn’t have a reason to comment about a blog post for its own merit in its own time (or when it becomes relevant again) then why award it months after the fact? Plus campaigning for votes brings it back to a popularity contest. I got enough of that in high school. (I refuse to make an argument about sanity, sensibility and Robin the same breath.)

  6. Your letter makes a reasonable argument. The last time I checked (several days ago), I wasn’t satisfied with the range of blogs represented. It just didn’t seem fair. I submitted a bunch of nominations of blogs and posts I’d thought were overlooked. I’ll check again today, and see if there’s an improvement. If not (or if not enough) I may withdraw, too.

    What type of established standards do you think would be fair?

  7. A year ago, I got nominated for UU award, but then my nomination got yanked when it was pointed out that I was not a UU. Oops. I was flattered to even be nominated, of course. But this does sort of raise the question of why denominational membership is a basis for awards at all. Some bloggers write about the UU denomination–fair enough. But others just happen to be UU members and maybe only blog occasionally, if at all, about UU politics or their experiences in church. “UU blogger” encompasses a whole range of different types of blogs with different agenda, purposes, and subject matter. Ultimately, the boundary between “UU blogger” and “non-UU blogger” seems a little arbitrary and meaningless to me. A good blog is a good blog; a good progressive religious blog is a good progressive religious blog; and a good blog about one’s personal life is a good blog about one’s personal life. The category of “UU membership” is so broad and encompasses so many types of blogs as to be meaningless–and ultimately encourages (in my mind) a bit of an insularity.

    I agree that this really does seem a bit like a popularity contest, a la high school. Some of the best blogs out there (in my opinion) might not be the ones that garner the most votes. I totally understand the aversion towards these things. I long ago came to realize that my blog would be of interest to only a small number of people–and that’s okay.

  8. Dunno. I always learn about a bunch of new blogs when we have the blog awards. It’s one of my favorite things about it. The winners are usually established blogs with a high volume of posts, to me the nominations are the fun part, and I’m not sure why Hafhida’s response of noticing there wasn’t enough variations in the nominations and nominating some more different kinds of people herself isn’t the logical response.

    Mystic Seeker-
    My understanding is that self-identification as UU is how eligability is determined. If I’m recalling correctly, you commented on UUpdater that you weren’t a Unitarian or Universalist or UU and suggested that it might be reasonable to disqualify you.

    UUpdater has said before that the difference between UU and Non-UU blogs is amount of religious content. UU blogs have primarily religious content (e.g. Ministrare, Lively Tradition) and non-UU blogs are written by UUs, but primarily focused other places (The Happy Feminist, Surviving the Workday.) Lots of blogs fall into a gray area, but that’s the theory.

    CC

  9. I just found the nominations form really confusing and don’t really understand how this can work fairly or well when there’s no community of bloggers who get informed together, on the same day, that noms are being sought out. I don’t use UU Updaters and had no idea this was going on, and found out while on vacation. I went to the nominations page and thought, “This is just a random mishmash of people who happened to know about this — I never even had an opportunity to nominate anyone, and I’m one of the most widely-read UU bloggers out there.”

    If we’re going to do this right, it will need a different process. But for now I appreciate the efforts of those who try to keep it light and fun and create a bit of buzz for UU blogging. I hadn’t heard about the Chicago Tribune thing until today. I find that anecdote interesting for one reason: it proves that in fact, the blogosphere is one of the places UUs with strong opinions that run counter to “typical” UUism (like Christians) can have some influence and stir things up. GOOD.

  10. Someone I know IRL brought the Chicago Tribune thing to my attention a bit ago. Didn’t see any reason to give it heat or light at the time, but it does provide an example of a UU blog award being used as evidence that a blogger has support within the denomination.

    Here’s the link: http://www.topix.com/forum/living/wedding/TOPO8CM7M0S56JJVE/p3

    Robin brings up Peacebang in post 55:

    I think that you will find that this “independent evidence” in the form of a blog post by one of the few Gof believing U*U ministers that I know of, and the follow-up comments, corroberatees much of what I have been saying about how God, and God believing, are rather less than genuinely welcome in many so-called U*U “Welcoming Congregations” Eric.

    http://peacebang.blogspot.com/2006/06/includi

    The entirety of post 58, written by Eric, is…

    “You know, I read this site and got the entirely opposite impression. Here is a person–a minister–arguing for more recognition of G-d by the larger organization. The religion advertises on the site. The religion gave an award to the site. Doesn’t sound like anyone is trying to silence the opinions of the person involved. It appears no different from any other religion where there are doctrinal discussions”

    As for notice of the awards, I read about it on Philocrites a couple of weeks ago. (Just checked, he’s written about it a couple of times, starting January 17.) I think for a long time, it could be assumed that pretty much every UU blogger either read Philocrites, checked UUpdates, or both. If that’s not true anymore, it might make sense to put together a mass email list of bloggers for announcements like this.

    I’m sorry you didn’t feel you had the opportunity to nominate people. (I don’t understand given that you wrote about the awards on your blog days before the nominations closed, but I’m sorry.) If you take a vacation in late January next year and would like to give me your list of nominees, I’m happy to submit them for you.

    Also, UUpdater has asked for comments on the nominations process. He’s already been here, so I guess you don’t need to cross-post, though.

    CC

  11. I am not concerned by the [deleted to keep the Google spider from making links] virus and I don’t think that his arguments and links are convincing for anybody but those who want to be confirmed in their own prejudices. Nevertheless I appreciate that Peacebang’s blog is giving such good image about UUism, and perhaps this should be noted by others who seems to be so concerned about UU visibility and growth.

    BTW, the UUA presidential career is open. You may want to check http://www.moralesforuuapresident.org/

  12. I’m not sure what to do about the “people don’t necessarily hear about the UU blog award nominations” problem. For a long time, it was safe to assume that pretty much every UU read either Philocrites or UUpdates. Both places started talking about the blog awards weeks ago.

    Also, PB, I’m not trying to be snarky here, but I’m confused that you say you never had a chance to nominate people. You put up a post on your blog asking for nominations two days before the nominations closed. Couldn’t you have just nominated people then? If you found the nominations form confusing, that means you had a chance to use it, right?

    Anyway, an email mailing list might be in order.

    I like the UU blog awards. Probably partially because I sometimes win a couple of them. But also because it’s nice to read a post and remember it and know that in January, I will be able to recognize its awesomeness with something a little more enduring than a link. I tend to find cool new blogs through the nominations process and I love that people post retrospectives in preparation for the blog awards.

    High traffic and lots of comments are, of course, their own reward, but as someone who got 700 hits, a whole bunch of links and 68 comments on one post on one day because I insulted the discordians and a bunch of them attacked me en masse, I don’t really see them as an especially good measure of quality either.

    CC

  13. CC Hon, I was on vacation at the time when I found out — our internet connection popped in and out, so I was lucky to get my pre-composed post up at all (I knew the noms were in the winter, just didn’t know when). I was literally sitting with my friend’s computer in my lap at the edge of the bed in her room; the only place in the house we could establish a shaky wireless connection.

    By the time I got home, noms were closed.

    I suppose I could have borrowed my vacation buddy’s computer and run off to a Starbucks and figured it out over the next two afternoons, but I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for choosing to spend those days in the pool and frolicking with a gorgeous man instead.

  14. I think that was a perfectly reasonable choice to make. I probably would have made the same choice.

    CC
    who doesn’t particularly want to get chewed out and spent a full fifteen minutes trying to word this in a minimally-offensive way and who will be happy to submit your nominations next year since you tend to take a long vacation in late January and the UU blog awards are in late January. Send them over to me before you leave and I will make sure they get to UUpdater.

  15. For the most part, I have no business weighing in here, but since I administer the Blogisattva Awards, which honor Buddhist blogs and have an ‘excellence only’ standard, I have to say I agree mightily with Scott’s sentiments in his post.

    While I could learn a lot from the people who pull together the UU Blog Awards, I think that ours is — in Buddhist terms — ‘Right Effort.’ Excellence is worth knowing and finding and honoring. It is especially meaningful to us when we find gems — blogs and posts — that were little known and bring them an audience of new readers.

    I’m not sure what a UU Blog Award means. A person can go to Technorati or other sites or get statistics for one’s own blog to measure popularity.

  16. I am glad someone decided to say “no” to these ridiculous blog award things. I thoroughly agree with you about the whole “popularity contest” idea and I hope you continue to stay out of that kind of silly reindeer game.

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